Activists say they have discovered a 6.8 tonne shark fin shipment brought into Hong Kong from the Middle East via Philippines Airlines.
Most of the world’s biggest airlines have banned carrying shark fins because of the difficulty in identifying whether or not fins had come from a protected species. The Chinese government has banned shark fin soup at state events.
The delivery was found in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district in the side street next to the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. It was loaded onto several wooden palettes, with each palette holding about six or seven 50kg bags each.
“Staff at the nearby unmarked shark fin warehouse were keen for us not to film their premises, and shut the door in our faces when we tried to film inside,” says Alex Hofford, Director of WildLifeRisk.
Dubai’s flag carrier Emirates suspended shark fin imports to Hong Kong in 2013.
In a letter to Philippine Airlines WildLifeRisk wrote:
“We would like to bring to your attention that the shipping of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fish, shark and shark products is a serious breach of international law, as well as IATA guidelines (LAR 3.2 Specific Airline Variations). Consequently we have informed the Interpol Environmental Crimes Unit of your airline’s actions, and are awaiting their follow up.”
“Our organisation WildLifeRisk, together with Dr Alex Antoniou, a marine scientist with ocean advocacy group Fins Attached, discovered in Hong Kong today what we believe to be an illegal shipment of 136 bags of dried shark fins, freshly arrived from Dubai on Philippine Airlines.”
Cathay Pacific Airways last September said it would stop carrying shark fins and related products on Cathay Pacific Cargo. It has long been banned from the passenger services of Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragonair and Air Hong Kong.
Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas have a ‘blanket ban’ on shark fins rather than a so-called ‘sustainable fins only’ ban.
Hong Kong Government data shows more than 1,162 tonnes of shark fin imported into Hong Kong in 201, of which 14.1% was by air cargo.
According to a July 2013 report by the global wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, the Philippines is a significant shark catching nation.
Business Insider has sought comment from Philippines Airlines.
WildLifeRisk is the same group which found a whale shark factory in Mainland China.